JD, I loved immersing myself in that fantastic world, the artificial language created a sense of realism and history you dont find in other works of fantasy. Even moreso when I saw the movie Tolkien and saw how much of an impact World War I and high levels of factory pollution in central England had on him.
But even with the large chunk of time I spent on Tolkien's works I have to say the Foundation series had a much larger impact on me. It confirmed my own internal thoughts in that ALL human creations, including governments, are prone to failure at some point or other because of human nature's own shortcomings. He took the rise and fall of the Roman Empire and moved it into the future, as a macrocosm of how humans can be their own worst enemies. In addition to that reading that also confirmed my thoughts about the best way for humanity to move forward is rather than trying to resurrect governments and nations on the downfall, we should take our best and brightest and start a new society, every few hundred years. The physical science society vs mental science society is an interesting idea, something which I partially support in that I do think society needs to be guided in a certain direction, but there are also certain moral dilemmas presented therein. I found the way he took the series in his later years to be much more to my liking, in expanding the Gaia concept of collectivism to include the entire universe, both animate and "inanimate." That I believe is the true way forward.